You’ve got to confess it, I said to myself, desperately, for maybe the thirteenth time. If you don’t, and maybe somebody driving the car has an accident and dies, it will be all your fault. Daddy has to be told.

I was sixteen years old. I’d only had my license for a few months, and I tried to be conscientious about my driving, knowing how inexperienced I was. Yesterday Mother sent me to the store for some last-minute groceries. On the way home I cut a corner too sharply, and the back right tire went up over the curb with a horrible thump. When I got home, I looked at it, and couldn’t see anything wrong, but how would I know? There might be some hidden damage, and somebody I loved might get really hurt. You’ve got to tell Daddy about it.

Daddy was in his office, dictating some letters. “Daddy, are you busy?”

“Yes, but I’ve got time for you. What is it?”

“Yesterday—” and I began to sob—“Yesterday when I went the grocery store, I ran over a curb with the right back wheel, and I’m afraid I damaged it.”

He looked at me thoughtfully. “I’m glad you told me.”

“I’ll pay for a new tire, or whatever else is wrong.” Silly promise! Where could I get money to keep that promise?

He put his arm around me. “Libby, the car is fine. I drove it this morning. There’s nothing wrong with the tire. I’m glad it happened with no harm, so you’ll you know how hard it is to manage two tons of steel. Thank you for telling me. Now dry your tears. Everything’s O.K.”

That morning, in my father’s office, I saw mercy and truth meet together. I expected justice and punishment, but mercy smiled down on me.
Psalm 85:10 says it this way:

Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Two astonishing, seemingly conflicting realities about God are both true. God is always, always just and fair. He is the essence of righteousness. Abraham, the friend of God, asked Him once, “Shall not the God of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). The answer is, “Yes, the God of all the earth always, always does right.”

But righteousness demands punishment for sin. So where does that leave all of us who obviously have does wrong and deserve punishment? Psalm 136 answers,

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

And every verse of that Psalm repeats that incredible truth: God’s mercy lasts forever.

You may feel that my feeling guilt for a hapless teenager’s driving experience silly, compared to all the bitter memories we all have of wounding and unforgivable wrongs we’ve done others.

But the message is the same, no matter who you are or what you grieve about your past. Justice and mercy met together when Jesus hung on the cross, dying to pay the penalty for your sin and mine. Justice was not denied. The penalty was paid. And God’s mercy is extended to every single sinner, because the debt was paid. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other!

A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford